Prayer is not so much about what we do for God, but what God does for us and in us. Advent and Christmas time is all about God coming into the human story. God's initiative. The best way to celebrate Advent is in a prayerful way. When Luke in the gospel of the first Sunday of Advent says 'Stay awake, praying at all times..' he means tune into the fact that God is coming to you and me.
(Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36)
It is hard to do this in our time as there are so many messages battling for our attention. Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year so its like Advent hardly gets a look in. However, we are still encouraged to make prayerful preparation in Advent.
In his book "The Good News of Luke's Year" Fr. Silvester O'Flynn writes:
"We wait for the Lord if we live with attentive minds and prayerful hearts. Prayerfulness is the art of seeing and hearing the constant signs and sounds of God's love in our lives. Those who mastered this sensitivity were saints. In the words of T.S. Eliot;
'But to apprehend the point of intersection
of the timeless with time, is an occupation for the saint.' (The Dry Salvages)
The best way to stay awake is to be awake to the needs of others, especially those who for whatever reason are fearful of Christmas time. Just today, I met two men (30's) who are not looking forward to Christmas as they both find themselves homeless and are away from their families. "Christmas will just be another day for me." one said. "I wish it was all over to tell you the truth." said the other. I also think of people who dread Christmas as perhaps this will be the first Christmas that a loved one won't be sitting around the table or the fireside in the family home.
During Advent let us pray....